Yesterday was double tournament session: Manuela, Ester and Keith played Caylus (in the absence of Paul B.), while Nick Baldyworthy, Dan and I played Stone Age. Interestingly, it was Dan's first face-to-face game: so far, he only played on BrettSpielWelt. With Nick and Dan having each several games under their belt, and I having only played once before, it was no surprise I lost. Badly. The final score says it all: Nick won with 205 VPs, Dan finished with 167 and I with 154.
I increased my tribe to 6 members early on, and then never increased it until the game's end, while Nick and Dan started to grow their populations later and finished with over 8 people each, allowing them to get more resources each turn. In particular, they acquired many more cards than I, climbing up the food production chart and obtaining extra VP bonuses at the end, with Nick obviously choosing his cards more wisely than Dan. I should kick myself, because Paul had told me before hand that Nick would amass cards, and I didn't do anything to prevent it. Only in the last round did I take a population multiplier, which gave me 6 VP and prevented them of getting 8+ VP. Without that action, I would have trailed even further behind. After about 90min (including a rule refresher for my benefit) the best player won and the most inexperienced and stupid one lost: fair's fair. My consolation is that Nigel told me later that he and Matt had also been heavily beaten by Nick when they played together.
André and Michael, who had been rather lonely playing with my copy of Hey, that's my fish!, joined us for a game of Endeavor, the new rage at the club. Dan was the only one who had played it before and went rather quickly through the rules; it took us two turns to get a grasp of them, with several minor points being asked throughout the game. Basically, it's yet another economic development game, but with some topological and area majority elements. It's not a bad game, but it's too abstract - the way you pick up capabilities from the sea and from cards doesn't make any thematic sense, for example. The game is too self conscious, i.e. it makes its design too obvious, with a potpourri of various mechanics brought together for no particular reason. Great design, not just in games, should be elegant and self-effacing. To sum up: it's a game that lacks character, IMHO. For me, Puerto Rico still rules.
Nick obviously has a knack for these games, because he won again, with 66 VP, followed by André (56), myself (55), Michael (52) and Dan (43). We played the game rather quickly for first-timers: about 90min including rule explanations. At the other tables, John, Matt, Graham and Julian played Endeavour followed by Yspahan (twice?), while Nigel brought his copy of Struggle of Empires and played with Damen, Sam, Big Nick, Ian and someone else I can't recall. They didn't finish the game, and will continue next week. As for me, after Goa, San Juan, Stone Age and Endeavor, I definitely need a break from this type of games: they're all challenging and tense, but too much of the same is not a healthy diet...